Who Was That Namir, Anyway?

cat sleeping

A Blissful Namir.

Who was Kelly’s soul-mate, this cat named “Namir” who she met and still remembers?

I’m certain Namir had a pretty frightening kittenhood, but the wonderful woman who rescued both him and Kelly related it to me in such a humorous way it actually seemed fun, and it is all I know about his rescue.

A little gray and white kitten visited the house where she lived while in college and she realized after watching him that he seemed to live at the fraternity down the street. Not certain if he had just wandered there to hang out with the guys or if they had actually adopted him, she started feeding the kitten when he visited because, as she said, she was “sure they were feeding him mashed potatoes and beer.”

photo of Namir

Namir, photo © B.E.Kazmarski

She’d only lived with dogs before but came to adore the friendly and affectionate little kitten. Christmas break came and she offered to take care of the kitten while they were away and…just never managed to give him back. And possibly because he was suddenly neutered he really didn’t care for that carefree lifestyle anymore. Oh, and the food, that was definitely a plus over the bachelor diet of mashed potatoes and beer.

He wasn’t very cat-like at the time, no playing, no bathing, but she’d never owned a cat so she didn’t notice because he was really friendly and affectionate, enjoying brushings and being carried around. But he also had some specifically cat-like traits such as removing the screens from windows, opening locked doors and finding any other means of escape. He just needed a way to find a small rodent to sacrifice and bring its head to his human as proof of his gratitude for rescuing him, or perhaps as a threat to what might befall her should she fall from grace, she was never certain which it might be.

When she graduated and began working, her friends convinced her that Namir needed a buddy rather than staying home alone, so she went to the shelters and asked for “the next cat in line for euthanasia,” and that was how Kelly came to be a part of their lives.

Namir’s angry reaction to coming here and to me was a big surprise considering how friendly he’d always been with everyone in every situation, but I understood that he growled at me because I was the one who had taken away his mom, and he was one deeply devoted cat. How to explain the situation to him? His heart was broken by this abandonment and betrayal, and only time would help him heal, as I knew myself after losing Kublai, the black cat who I always call the love of my life, the year before, and still felt the twinges of his loss.

namir's bedroom eyes

Namir's "bedroom eyes".

Months passed, he and Kelly finally began exploring the upstairs and then the downstairs and for a while he treated guests with more affection than he treated me. But a heart as loving as Namir’s can’t hold out forever and one day he gave me one of his affectionate swats on the elbow as I walked past him, gave me his squinty look that was a mock dare, and we were buddies.

And as for that name…she had explained that a friend had suggested it to her because it meant “swift cat”, referring to the grace of his movements. I have found that it does mean “swift cat” in Persian languages, not Hebrew as she thought, but in Hebrew it seems to mean “leopard” or “spotted”.

gray and white cat in the sun

Sunwashed Namir

Well, he may have been gray and white on the outside, but I knew that underneath that common coat was a long feline heritage of Oriental influence. I always said he was a prince who had been painted at birth, seeing the long legs with oval paws, muscular torso and rising curved back, the long sweeping tail with the slight angled kink at the end that showed when he was curious, the large upright cupped ears. And he often sat or stood with his right paw lifted and crossed over his left leg, which I thought was simply cute until I did a portrait of two Abyssinian cats and learned that is a particular trait of Abys.

As I’ve mentioned, Namir was the inspiration for beginning this blog, and is the kitty in the header. He had a long list of medical conditions by that time, idiopathic cystitis, herpes in his bladder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, I told him he just liked to use big words, and while nothing slowed him down his care was constant and complicated. At the beginning, being new to blogging, I didn’t feel that writing about his many conditions and his care was appropriate. By the time I finally felt comfortable he was at his end and I didn’t have the time to share him while he was alive, or to relate his illness and care in a way that would benefit others.

watercolor of a cat in kitchen

Darling Clementine, watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

During my period of grieving him, I decided what I would do with this venue and my cats within it and began posting articles more and more frequently, and introducing my cats. When Peaches was diagnosed the following spring with chronic renal failure I began immediately to write about the disease, her treatment, and our experience from that point, through the course of the illness to her death that autumn.

I still miss that goofball, but he left behind so much of himself in what I’m doing today that I remember him with fondness every time I open The Creative Cat. And of course he was a great friend to Cookie as they became my most recent feline garden sprites.

I wrote a remembrance of him on my website after he died, My Good Friend, Namir. I also post an article about him each year around his birthday, Not a Bad Deal on a Pre-owned Cat, and he inspired what I feel is one of my best articles, the first I wrote with the intent of what to do with this new blog, Perhaps the Storm is Finally Over.

And we haven’t hear—or seen—the last of him!

Read other rescue stories and stories of my cats featured here on The Creative Cat.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Namir at the Window, Reprise

painting of cat with flowers

Namir at the Window, acrylic © B. E. Kazmarski

Now that I’m getting my studio in order, I’m also finding a few unfinished projects, so last night I decided to reacquaint myself with this painting and with acrylic paints and techniques.

Normally, I’m pretty linear with working on something, focusing on one clear idea at a time. When I’m learning something new I hit points where I’m not skilled enough to do something and need to either work it out there or outside of that piece, or just stop and let the lessons I’ve learned sink in and get back to it when I’m ready to move on. This is the third time I’ve worked on this and a fresh eye has led to a few decisions.

paitning of cat at window

Last proof of painting from 2009.

I began this painting in January 2008 from photos I took of Namir in 2005, I think, soon after I’d gotten the acrylics, but hit a learning wall at one point and put it aside to work on commissions. I pulled it out again in April of 2009 when Namir, at 15 with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, was having increasing trouble with congestive heart failure, kidney failure and related health issues, and I know we didn’t have much time left. I wanted to work on the painting when he was still with me. He died in July 2009, and again I left it where it had been at that time.

Namir is gone but I love to remember him in any way I can. The area where I keep this windowbox is too shady for the colorful geraniums and petunias and marigolds I’d always grown in it, and the pleasant memory of him at the window with the flowers is a treasure to spend time with.

My changes this time

Where before I wanted to get the reflection in the window so it didn’t “t look like a big black hole in the middle of the painting”, get “a little more detail on the shutter on the right…”, I’ve decided there is too much background that isn’t necessary. I originally liked the “cottage-ish” look of the shutter and windowbox, but they aren’t interesting enough. If there was, or I could add, something of interest there, I’d do that, but I think what I’ll do instead is crop the painting, literally.

painting of cat at window

The cropped version.

I want it to show what I remember most and what I feel is most important, and I don’t need to show the whole scene to do that as I first thought. It’s a canvas stretched on cardboard, not stretchers, so all I need to do when I’m done is cut out the part I want to use and frame that. I’ve done that with other paintings in other media including other acrylics (see below). For now, I just won’t work on that anymore. That’s kind of freeing!

I also adjusted the color of the lace curtain. There is a screen in the window that tends to tint everything that’s not sunlit with brown, and even though it’s lighter than it is in the original photo it makes more sense. I’ll also add more texture back into it, now that I have the shade right.

I had also wanted to change Namir’s so “he looks less like a grey coyote”. He does have big ears, an angular face and a prominent nose, but I had painted the curtain around his face and overlapped a little too much, taking too much away from the edges of his face and head and working his ears out too long. I adjusted his forehead, shortened his ears and added a little more to the back of his neck. His coloring isn’t right yet, but I’m still working him out against the background. And while he was very slender I may add a little more roundness to his lower torso.

Also, his eye in the photo is barely apparent, a fluke of a leaf shadow that crossed over his face when I took the photo, but it didn’t work in the painting, so I’m working that out from other photos. It’s amazing what our eye will accept in photos but not in a painting. Not there yet, but definitely an improvement.

Acrylic painting and me

painting of laundry on line

My Neighbor's Laundry, acrylic © B. E. Kazmarski

Acrylic painting is a challenge because I’m most accustomed to pastel for color work like this, and I use my fingers for much of pastel, holding it directly in my hand and blending with my fingers. Pastel is also very patient and waits for me to do something, remaining exactly as I left it for indefinite periods of time, where acrylic paint has an annoying habit of drying right away.

The work above began as an 18″ x 24″ painting of a view I see all the time—one neighbor’s laundry hanging in front of their neighbor’s huge old white garage, which was at one time a carriage house and stable. It was the barn, not the laundry, that initially made me want to paint this on a summer morning because I loved the look of the colors reflected in the white paint from all the green, the blue from the sky and so on.

That was one time where I wasn’t skilled enough in acrylic to pull it off (though I did in pastel–I actually did the same painting in pastel just to give myself some guidance), and I totally overworked the barn. I learned quite a bit about acrylics in that one, but had no intention of showing it to anyone, much less enter it in “Carnegie Painted”, the annual art show it was destined for.

But I loved, loved the laundry. It was exactly what I wanted, and the green of the grass and the dappled leaves behind. I had a frame on hand so I cut it down to fit that, 14″W x 7″H. I thought I’d kept the rest because I keep everything and I also might want to use it in teaching some day, but I couldn’t find it. Nor could I find the pastel drawing. I sincerely doubt that I tossed them because I had a purpose, though in a moment of desperation for space in this house I may have. Probably they are safely packed together somewhere.

I’m not sure I like acrylic paints generally because of the drying issue, I like the more glossy finish on oil and the colors resemble my pastels a little more closely, but two friends gave me unused acrylic paints and canvases and brushes, so I’m getting all the practice I can and I’m sure I’ll get used to it. What I love about acrylics is the brushwork I can do that is difficult in pastel, and it’s not just about the shapes and colors on the canvas, but the 3-D texture of paint. I also love working with a brush, choosing the right brush for the task, loading it with paint, sometimes several colors at once, it’s a very different way of thinking than my pastels. I just need to do more acrylics and see how it works out!


From the Lost Sketchbook, Namir on the Windowsill

pencil sketch of cat on windowsill

Namir Pencil Sketch, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

It’s obvious in this sketch that Namir had quite the Oriental breed influencing his good looks. The only problem was that he was gray tabby and white, n ot marked at all like an Oriental breed. I used to say that he was an Abyssinian cat who had been painted at birth.

I loved those huge ears, that prominent nose and whisker pads—especially since his muzzle was white and quite stood out—and those tourmaline eyes. His tail was very expressive, long and slender with a little bend about an inch from the end that only showed when he was feeling especially intense.

He fought hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure for his last four years, but with his social nature, congeniality and general busy agenda no one would have known he was even ill. Instead of “he fought” I should say “he ignored” his illness, because he did. I lost Namir on July 1, 2009, and I’ve written a remembrance of him which is not sad, just remembering all his ways and days with lost of photos and artwork, and his last day. He is also the subject of several other works, including the art in the header of this page. You can find him on my website under “My Cats” in the first page of color artwork, and under “pencil” as well as in my Marketplace in individual and sets of notecards.


Namir at the Window

"Namir at the Window" in progress

"Namir at the Window" in progress

I’m working on a painting in between portraits, and I have to admit it’s not exactly “new”. I began this painting in January 2008, I think, then put it aside piled things in front of it, thought about it here and there, and finally decided I’d just get back to it.

I’m just learning acrylic painting with the gift from two different people of someone’s old stores of tubes of paint, brushes, canvases and other materials, and I decided that was about as clear a sign as I could get that I should start painting. And, just as I did years ago when I began drawing, my subject is inevitably one of my cats, the subject with which I’m most familiar and comfortable and I can therefore focus on the medium. This is pretty large, 18″ x 24″, and I keep forgetting that acrylic paint dries pretty quickly and I have to be orderly about how I work this so I don’t end up with paint caked on it in areas that I didn’t get back to before they dried.

It’s Namir looking out the dining room window where my window boxes hold flowers for most of the year, beginning with bulbs in pots in March and ending with chrysanthemums that sometimes have snow on them. I decorate with greens trimmed from my spruces through the winter to shelter the pots of bulbs that will sprout again in spring.

In summer, when the years-old pink geraniums I’ve saved year after year are again blooming with whatever else I’ve added to them, the color is astonishing, and because the flowers attract bees and hummingbirds and butterflies, there is usually at least one cat at the window wishing the glass or the screen wasn’t there.

I’ve got the basis down, but I need to get the reflection in the window so it doesn’t look like a big black hole in the middle of the painting, and I think I need a little more detail on the shutter on the right so it doesn’t just look like I painted the right side of the canvas brown just because. Because the screen is in the window, the lace curtain, which is actually antique white, looks creamy or tan, and I’ll probably change that. After I get the curtain decided, I can finish up Namir so he looks less like a grey coyote, though he does have big ears and a prominent nose.

I’ll post the next proof in a few days.


Pussy Willow, a Vintage Photo

photo of cat sitting by pussy willow in angled sun

Pussy Willow, photograph © B.E. Kazmarski

It’s time for another vintage photo of my household. I have this photo hanging in my kitchen and though I see it every day, there are days when it fully captures my attention. I study it, and each time I see more in it. And so I did today.

It’s from the time when I first began to consider my photos “good”, perhaps to consider them “photographs” that I might display and sell as prints and framed items, instead of just “pictures”. This was, maybe, ten years ago. “Pussy Willow” was taken earlier than that but stayed on my mind. It was one of the first that made me take another look at my other photos.

What I like most is the abstraction, the light and shadow playing on the objects and the walls, both the pussy willow and the cat turning from positive objects to negative space as the sun and shadow move across them.

I would not have taken the photo without Namir, though. I do like the pussy willow on its own and always have it somewhere around the house where I can enjoy its stark figures. When he got bored with me and walked way I took a photo of just the pussy willow, and it’s nice, but not something I’d frame and hang on the wall.

I always associated Namir with pussy willow too, something about the texture of his fur, and his white oval paws reminding me of the catkins. I turned around, there he sat, that lovely warm spring sunshine washing over the scene, it was as if it was waiting for me to photograph with the old fully manual film-based Pentax K1000.

It was also taken on a day very much like today, a sunny late afternoon in late April. I have a version of it that I desaturated in PhotoShop and I like the semi-sepia look, but it doesn’t capture that original inspiration, the warm April sunshine literally pouring in the window, coating everything it touched with gold.

You may have photos like this as well, this is partly why I explained all my reasoning.

I’ll have this for sale in my Etsy shop soon, but it’s not a standard frame size so I have to be certain the molding I choose for the frame is regularly available from my supplier.

This article tells a little more about Namir and how he came into my life “Who Was That Namir, Anyway?”, and about his life in my household, “Not a Bad Deal on a Pre-Owned Cat”.

You’ll find Namir mentioned in plenty of articles on The Creative Cat, and don’t forget to look at the header image, which features him in another of his contemplative moments in the sun.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Suddenly Spring: 2011

tortie cat in greens

Cookie is in the green.

Last year, April 23 was a rainy day just like today, but the forget-me-nots were just getting started. I’ve been looking forward to this picture of Cookie, along with the Queen Bee, below, on the picnic table.

Cookie sits amid the sprouting grass and forget-me-nots, deciding where in the yard to explore first.

Just a week ago Cookie’s speckled tortie coat still blended into the background of dormant grass, leaves and twigs and I would often lose track of her when she stood still. Now I have no problem at all as everything has greened up in just the past week and her camouflage has lost its effectiveness.

We’ve been checking the progress on what we planted in the garden last month, and this week the peas finally began sprouting, and while the spinach and lettuce had sent up a few scouts earlier they sprouted in earnest this week and began to grow. The asparagus sent up some spears and the violets, along with the forget-me-nots, added some color to the greenery. Cookie and I are glad our back yard is finally starting to look familiar, and it’s warm enough to take our walk!

And Cookie got to take a little rest on our picnic table, one of her favorite spots. Now it’s in dappled sun but when the trees leaf out it’s pretty much in shade. We took a little time to remember Namir; the three of us spent quite a few mornings and afternoons out there, and the picnic table was always a favorite spot for observation.

And with that, it’s officially the outdoor season.

tortie cat on picnic table

Cookie is ready to supervise my work.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


So a Cat Walks Into a Meeting…

black and white cat

Henry on his first night in my basement.

It’s not a joke, Henry really did walk into a meeting I was attending and proceeded to get himself rescued and subsequently adopted.

On a mild and misty spring evening, May 8, 2008 to be exact, I met with the board of a community conservation organization to review the illustrations for an interpretive sign we were creating for one of their conservation areas. The meeting was held in the municipal building, a small newer brick building that also housed their public library. This was among a group of buildings that included their local Post Office and public works buildings, and all were situated in a small parking lot along a winding country road.

Not terribly remote, there were houses on the hills around and along the road as well as industrial and small manufacturing businesses in an area that was slowly converting from a rural and agricultural character to a more residential area.

That early in the year the air conditioning was not yet in use and the room had grown stuffy so we opened the door to let the cool evening air fill the room.

I sat with my illustrations and designs awaiting my turn on the agenda. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a cat walk in the door. I accepted this apparition without question since I seem to see cats everywhere, yet the shape or color or pattern usually turns out to be leaves or a shadow or someone’s shoes that my searching visualization turns into something familiar and recognizable.

However, the logical remembrance of a very rectangular metal doorway and door painted a neutral tan with gray concrete on the outside and tan carpeting on the inside and a gray and quiet evening without caused me in the same moment to reconsider the appearance of a large rounded black shape with white spots moving through the doorway.

I quickly turned around to see that it was not the mechanizations of my visual acuity, it really was a large black and white cat walking very purposefully through the doorway and into the room, looking curiously up at the humans around the table as he stepped off the plastic runner and decisively turned into the first room on the left as if he belonged in that room.

Others also looked at him, but no one reacted, so I thought he really did belong in there. I turned around but kept alert for movement in that area.

A few minutes later the cat came out of the room, looked at us again, went down the hall and explored other open offices and areas and came back, all as if he was completely familiar with the space, all while the meeting proceeded. When we moved into that first room on the left, a small conference room where we could spread out the drawings for the sign, the cat joined us and I asked if, perhaps, he lived in the municipal building. No one recognized him. We petted him and talked to him as we discussed the illustrations, and with that attention he stayed with us in the room.

The meeting over, a few of us discussed the sign and also the cat and what to do about him. I don’t like to just scoop up a cat from where it’s wandering if it seems safe because it’s easier found if it’s close to home. This cat wore a pretty green collar, though the collar seemed rather small, and the cat as clean as could be. Considering it was a rainy spring day and the area was either grassy or a post-winter parking lot, he, as we presumed, would be dirty if he’d been outside for any length of time. Still, cars and trucks traveled pretty quickly along the winding two-lane road and this particular clean, trusting and well-rounded kitty might not have a clue what to do when approaching.

What to do with a friendly kitty?

As we left and he followed us out I looked around at likely homes. The closest were across a little creek with somewhat muddy banks. I looked at his clean paws. He looked at me. I picked him up, a dangerous thing that I usually avoid at all costs unless I totally intend to take the cat home with me because I am lost once I touch them in any way, petting or nuzzling or even just letting them rub on my legs.

But picking them up can also help me assess more about them in temperament, health, and general outlook. This zaftig kitty settled easily into my arms and purred, looking around at the view from that height. He was not acting at all like a runaway or a confused kitty someone had tossed out. Either he was one of the most self-assured kitties I’d ever met or he was completely clueless.

black and white cat being held

Henry at the vet when he was scanned for a microchip.

A few friends from the meeting and I began to speculate and decide what to do, since none of us wanted to leave him. None of us felt we could take him for the sake of pets we already had so we decided to ask around the few people who were still there as the evening had progressed.

I walked into the library with him, a small one-room affair with a counter at the entrance, and asked if they’d ever seen this cat. The person behind the counter didn’t seem too pleased to have a cat inside and said she’d not noticed him, nor had anyone around the front of the room. Not sure what I would do with him I asked if I could post a sign with his picture on the bulletin board and got permission, saying I’d be back with it the next day.

I walked outside with him and since it was now approaching dusk, putting the cat down to see if he headed in any particular direction I asked a few people in the parking lot if they’d ever seen him, or if they could take him in to foster. It would be so much easier if he was in a home in the community rather than coming to my home, about ten miles and two communities away. Two teenagers said they’d seen him the day before behind the public works buildings, but they thought he belonged to someone near. Several people were interested in helping and one couple with children, leaving the library, discussed it at length and seemed convinced they could, but decided against it because they weren’t sure they could keep him confined from their dog and other cats.

Realizing I’d left my portfolio and backpack leaning against a bench near the entrance to the building, I decided I’d at least put those things in my car while I thought about what to do with this friendly cat. As I walked to my car he trotted alongside me, turning his big black and white face up to me as if we were buddies on an outing. When I opened the driver’s side door to reach in and unlock the back door, he hopped in and began to explore, completely unafraid of the car or what a trip in the car usually meant for cats. I placed my things in the back seat and closed that door. The cat settled into the passenger seat and began a complete bath, starting with his face. He was clearly at ease.

So I got in, closed my door, put on my seatbelt and started the car. No reaction from the cat. I reached over to pet him and he nuzzled my hand and gave it a few licks before returning to his own bath. I usually took the back way home where I could drive slowly in case he freaked on me at some point. In the deepening darkness his white patches glowed, so I’d have no problem finding him if he decided to get up and move around.

“Well, Henry,” I said, giving him the name that had been coming to mind for him, “we’re on our way.”

Guess he’s coming home with me

He was fine on the way home while I pondered what the heck I would do with him when I got there with nine cats already, Peaches, Cookie, Namir, Kelly plus Mimi and the Fantastic Four. At nearly 10 months old they were still spending overnights in the bathroom so the seniors could get a good night’s sleep, plus they were still in that observation period for their first year we had all agreed on because of the risk of FIP, and I didn’t want to expose another cat to that possibility.

The spare cat room was filled to capacity with art stuff as usual, not really even enough floor space to accommodate a litterbox plus food and water bowl, I wasn’t sure where I’d put him. He continued his bath without concern.

I got home and left him in the car (seems to be a pattern with me), fed the household their dinner, closed off the basement since there was a litter box in the bathroom, and took him in through the basement door, removed all the litterboxes and gave him a clean one. He could spend a few hours there while I rearranged the studio to fit him safely in there.

Efforts to find a home

And Henry took it all in stride, friendly and affectionate, eating happily and purring. I took a few photos of him, though he was so hungry for affection and wanting to be held it was difficult to get a good one. After the move upstairs I designed a flyer and sent out an e-mail to friends, attaching the flyer for friends who lived in the community he’d come from to print out and post. I began looking for an owner, a foster home, a clue to where this really handsome, loving, friendly cat had appeared from.

Giving him a mini exam I guessed he was in those middle years, maybe four to eight, neutered, decidedly overfed, and likely had been kept completely indoors from the looks of his perfectly pink paw pads. For some reason I pictured an older person or couple who had doted on him, fed him lots of treats, spent time with him on their lap with a lot of carrying and cuddling and affection, though I couldn’t figure out the slightly-too-small green vinyl collar. He seemed healthy so I decided to forego a veterinary appointment but instead decided to put my efforts into finding his owner through flyers and phone calls and e-mails, shelters, local police and all the other means available. A trip to a local clinic to have him scanned turned up no microchip or electronic identification of any sort.

Despite all these efforts no one turned up to claim him, and no one even seemed to recognize him.

Henry closeup

Henry, still at the vet, was pretty comfortable with people, even during an exam!

I felt so sad for Henry, not just that he had lost his person but that I had little time to spend with him for the sake of working entirely at my computer downstairs and keeping up with the young ones and the old ones in my household. Namir at that time was requiring four medications twice daily, one of them the diuretic Furosemide or Lasix, and with his bladder condition he often couldn’t make it to the litterbox in time, so I was regularly cleaning up after him. I usually keep unknown strays, no matter how nice, isolated in the spare cat room for four weeks even if I’ve had a few preliminary tests done so he was stuck in there to begin with, not to mention he stayed well clear of the door and looked at me with wide-eyed uncertainty when he heard them outside.

And ten cats was just too many. But even with that knowledge and all the other complications of my household, I had recently been thinking that black and white, tuxedo or otherwise, was one kitty flavor I’d never lived with…I have to stop having those sorts of thoughts as the universe hears me too clearly and they always lead to another rescue.

Thanks to FosterCat

I was so grateful to FosterCat for agreeing to take him in after he’d been with me for three weeks.

For all his affectionate nature he really was shy around other cats and still a quiet guy. He spent some time at PetSmart but other cats were more outgoing so he came back to his foster home. Through their website they did find a home for him with a couple who really adored him and he went on to his final home in February 2009.

Even after he’d gone to FosterCat I continued poking around to look for an owner for him, but never found a clue. With cats like Henry and Sophie and so many others who end up in odd places and ask to be rescued I never stop wondering about where they came from, who might be missing them especially since I don’t presume cats are always dumped; we all know someone whose cat got out and disappeared and was never seen again. I just hope that if an escape is the case that somehow the word gets back to wherever it needs to that the kitty was found and is safe. Perhaps I read too many fairy tails but it helps to mitigate what is often the unpleasant truth, and it doesn’t hurt to project positive thoughts.

You’ve read about FosterCat many times here on the The Creative Cat. Also visit their website and look for your next feline best friend, or consider being a foster home.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


How Peaches Stole My Heart

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

I’ve mentioned Peaches frequently, the little kitty who arrived at age 15 and lived to be 20, and who had a profound effect on my household and on my portfolio of sketches, paintings and photos, including a favorite, Peaches and Peonies. It’s just two years ago that Peaches was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and I began writing about her condition. Readers still discover those articles and find them helpful when their cats have been diagnosed and are being treated for the condition, often largely receiving fluid therapy at home. I’m going to repost those articles from two years ago as they come up.

Here is the first, an introduction to Rosebud and Angel, who became Peaches and Cream, and above is the very first photo I saw of them, the one given to me by the person caring for them as described below to convince me I needed to help rescue them. Who could resist? And, yes, it is on my list of images that I love; read more at the bottom.

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending while digging in her purse.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me, waving a photo. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was, first, an animal lover but not a cat person and not one of those constantly sending communiqués about cats about to be euthanized, and was also, though retired, a former architect and respected board member and support of various organizations I also supported, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably completely accurate down to the last fact, and there was a reason in addition to the two homeless cats that she was desperate to find a home.

And then she showed me the photo, above, which is lovely in its own right, but I also knew those two gorgeous calico cats were looking at someone they loved very much and waited to hear more.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

two calico cats on chair in sun

The other photo Betsy showed me of Peaches and Cream.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take them and the last thing he wanted to wanted to do with his mother’s beloved cats was to take them to a shelter and drop them off, knowing what is usually the fate of old cats in a shelter.

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Although I normally had about nine cats, with the extra care for senior cats seven was about my limit and that usually reinforced my decision to not take more cats into my home, when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Their own little marketing campaign

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off. Peaches was petite and looked as if someone had laid large sections of peach and gray fur across her the top of her as her chest, belly and legs were all creamy white.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait! Cream with my great-niece Cassidy.

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. I remember her looking at me with determination in those last few days, knowing she had no intention of giving me the sign she was ready to go, and having a very hard time balancing between my logical understanding of a cat who had reduced from ten pounds to four, who was not eating or drinking and was in fact subsisting on subcutaneous fluids and hope, and her clear desire to maintain.

Oddly enough it was trying to decide what to do with her remains after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others, that helped me and her make the decision. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. I was immediately put at ease with the thought, told it to Creamy and she did accept, relaxing and letting go over the next few hours, and I had her put to sleep the next day.

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year. In addition, the August after they arrived, Namir went into congestive heart failure for the first time and she will always be a part of the beginning of these events, inextricably interwoven into my household.

catphoto-peaches

Peaches, Feline Photographer

Peaches goes on

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still  looked like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people came to visit she was one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceased to surprise me when she went exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe Peaches was only with me for five years, and came to me at age 15—it seems as if she was always been with me. I had the feeling that Cream, much bigger and bolder, had always dominated tiny submissive Peaches from what Betsy had told me and from what I saw.

One morning I opened the door to the spare cat room and Peaches purposefully walked out as if she’d been waiting. I intuitively closed the door behind her. Peaches looked around the landing and into the two other rooms, then looked directly up at me and I could tell that was the moment she accepted the loss of her other person, decided she was staying here and accepted me as her new person, even though it meant leaving Cream behind.

We packed a lifetime into those years, beginning on that day as a senior foster when she decided to start a new life and became, from what I hear, a completely different kitty from the timid and elusive kitty she had been.

tortoiseshell cat bathing calico cat

Kelly gives Peaches a sisterly bath on the butterfly rug.

My household changed over constantly from the moment she arrived, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they loved their older sister very much. She found them very useful in the winter when she could snuggle in among them.

While she was friendly with every cat she encountered, she found a sweet friend in Kelly who absolutely adored her; Kelly had grown up the youngest and has always seemed most comfortable with older cats, and took to Peaches right away.

Not only did she settle firmly in the household, but she also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponded with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponded with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken all became a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart; you’d think I already knew this.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Where would my portfolio be without her?

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continued to be one of my favorite subjects, and still is.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So even though Peaches has gone into memory, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she gave to me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues.

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months.

Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Calico and tortoiseshell cats seem to be the beauty queens (99% of the time, anyway) of the feline image world. I always say it’s because the human eye loves pattern and color, and these cats certainly deliver! The first photo of Peaches and Cream in the window has long been an image I’ve wanted to work with, but I have so many ideas and I’ve been undecided in what seemed best. I don’t want to over use it in whatever I choose, a greeting card or painting or decorative item. It also works equally well as a photo as it would as a painting, and often that is my deciding point in creating a painting—much as I love to paint, if it’s a good photo and I can’t add anything to it by creating a painting I’ll stay with it. Still, my fingers itch to study and render their faces and spots as well as the delicate shadings on the window frame and the reflections of the trees in the glass. So I remain undecided!

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Begin in Spring to Control Fleas

photo of yard in spring with bench under trees

The woodland garden in spring.

Fleas, like most other insects, live everywhere around us and it’s how we manage our surroundings that helps to control their populations. Like managing mosquitoes, for instance, by eliminating still pools of water where they can breed, you can also manage the flea population around your yard without the use of toxic chemical so that fleas can’t set up a happy colony where they are ready and waiting when your pet comes outside—or even when you come outside and carry them in

Spring is the prime time to get ahead of them, so take spring cleaning in your yard as seriously as in your home and begin early. By initiating or modifying a few of the ways you care for your landscape you can eliminate nesting and breeding spaces and welcome their predators, an effect that can last all through the warm months of summer and fall.

Where Do Fleas Come From?

Fleas begin in the great outdoors, even in the nicest yard, and don’t think that simply because you don’t let your pet outside, or it’s only outside for a short while, that fleas won’t find them. Fleas are tiny and can hop amazing distances to get to a warm body for their blood meal, they can ride in on your own body though they don’t generally feed on humans, and encountering another animal that has fleas either on a walk outdoors or even at the veterinarian’s office can infest your pet without it ever setting a paw in the back yard.

But fleas are slow to wake up in the spring and are a snack for a number of predator insects. These two facts of their life cycle help you to get ahead of them.

photo of two cats in the grass

Cookie and Namir relax in the yard.

Integrated Pest Management

I’ve always taken one or more of my cats into my back yard, so I’ve always included fleas in my pest management. Adult fleas are very particular about moisture and temperature, but flea eggs can live through a lot of punishment and still hatch and carry on the next generation so they need to be managed from year to year, not just for the summer.

Aside from the dangers of insecticide toxicity, using an insecticide generally kills off all the insects in an area, not just the ones you are targeting. Where fleas are concerned, an insecticide just kills the adult fleas which are only about 10% of the total flea population. There may be some residual left to kill the eggs and larvae as they mature into adults, but with unpredictable weather it’s often washed away before it does any good.

cat in grass

Namir in the backyard.

Pest insects have adapted to reproduce more quickly than their prey so the fleas will return long before their predators return, resulting in a more serious infestation than before. Without any predators you really need to keep applying the chemical, but all you do is knock down the numbers, never winning the game, and often completely kill off all predators, and not just those of fleas, while building up toxic levels in your soil which run off into local waterways, affecting more wildlife than you ever intended.

It’s obvious that species have been kept in balance for millennia by some means outside of human controls. I am a Master Gardener and began years ago to start my own plants, identify seedlings, diagnose pests and diseases and build soil. I manage my little yard as a wildlife habitat, friendly to all native species as well as the plants I choose to grow and have always called on the forces of nature to manage the populations as an ecosystem, allowing it to find its own balance, and this has worked for managing fleas as well as other insect pests in my lawn, vegetable garden, flower beds and natural areas.

The two basic steps in managing any pest that outgrows its controls is to find out where it lives and destroy that habitat to any extent possible, and then find its natural predators and encourage them to inhabit and flourish, forever if possible.

cat looking into wooded area

Mom has a lot of work to do!

Flea Habitats

Fleas live in moist, shady areas in the yard, in the thatch in your lawn, debris piles, leaf litter, cord wood stacks and even under your deck or porch unless it’s completely dry. They’ve often overwintered in these areas and with the moisture of spring eggs start hatching as soon as it’s warm enough and shady after trees and shrubs have leafed out, about when temperatures rise above 60 degrees at night or 70 degrees during the day.

two cats in spring garden

My two seniors join me outdoors to supervise my gardening.

Spring Cleaning

One of the first things I do in spring, way before fleas hatch, is clear off all the debris in the yard and toss it in the compost pile, which as the materials break down heats up to a point that kills any eggs or seeds within it. I leave native plants standing for wildlife through the winter, but in spring it’s all taken down, even mowed if possible, then raked in order to remove possible pest habitat (including plant diseases which may have overwintered). If you don’t have a compost pile you can throw the material away in a bag, but just don’t keep it around, piled in a corner, or it can become a breeding ground for everything that laid eggs in it last year. This helps immensely with reducing the initial populations and you’ve also destroyed a lot of eggs and habitat for many insect pests.

This also helps to delay the onset of fleas in your yard, but they’re going to start hatching some time regardless of chemical or organic controls, so be prepared with methods to manage flea populations through their life cycle.

gray kitty under bush

My neighbor's kitty visits.

Manage Areas Fleas Prefer

To start with, try to minimize or eliminate damp and densely shaded areas in your yard—underneath a shrub, for instance, often a favorite place for pets to hang out on hot days because it’s cooler and the soil is a little damp. It’s absolutely flea heaven, especially if you’ve either left the leaf litter from last year or added some decorative bark or wood chip mulch. This one area can support three stages of the flea: eggs can be laid here, the larvae can live on organic matter, and they can build their cocoons here as well, hatching into adult fleas that feed on your kitty taking a nap in the shade.

photo of bird bath in garden

The bird bath in the shade garden.

My yard tends to be very damp and I also have a slug problem (that’s an understatement), and for years I’ve sprinkled diatomaceous earth (DE)in all the moist shady areas for the slugs that feast all night, also taking care of a good many fleas. This product is not soil at all but the shells of diatoms, tiny sea creatures, crushed to a fine powder. Sea shells are actually formed of minerals and while the powder looks like dust it is actually very tiny, very sharp particles that cut into the exoskeleton of the flea, causing it to dehydrate and die. It does the same thing to slugs, but other creatures, from earthworms to birds, simply digest it with no ill effect, and it’s completely a physical effect with no chemical effect at all.

Diatomaceous earth has a short-term effect outdoors, though, because it mixes with soil and other organic matter, diluting its effect, and is washed away by rain or even heavy dew, but generally sprinkling it weekly in damp shady areas through the summer is a good plan. Just make sure it’s the DE intended for gardening use NOT pool use because this has chemicals added, and wear a mask when you sprinkle it because prolonged inhalation can cause some respiratory discomfort.

At one time I used pyrethrum-based products to control fleas and other insect pests indoors and out, and while pyrethrins break down quickly in sunlight and are diluted by water, tests later showed that if they are not in conditions that break them down they can build up in soil and in the home, and can be toxic to some flora and fauna outdoors, and children and pets indoors. Many organic gardeners quit using them, though they are still sold for outdoor treatment as well as specifically flea control products. I have included a link to the CDC report at the end of this article.

spider on flower

"Daddy Long Legs" are flea predators.

Modify Your Lawn

Also manage your yard, especially your lawn, to encourage flea predators. You can apply beneficial nematodes to damp and shady areas as well as the DE, especially where you can’t change the conditions by trimming shrubs or cleaning up debris such as a bed of heavy ground cover like ivy or pachysandra, or where you’ve landscaped with mulch, sand, gravel or small stones. You may need to reapply every year or two; this was my experience, but they definitely keep populations down while they persist.

Natural Predators

You can also encourage the flea’s natural predators to come and live in your lawn and garden. Insect predators include ants, spiders and ground beetles, other species include amphibians such as toads and salamanders, reptiles such as garter snakes, and even birds that feed on the ground.

Hmmm… you don’t like spiders and snakes, and everything else sounds like something you don’t want anywhere near your house, except maybe the birds? Trust me, they are much more interested in their natural diet than they are in you, and unless you go looking you’d never know they’re there—except that you’d have fewer fleas and other pest insects generally.

tortoiseshell cat in forget me nots

Cookie in forget-me-nots

Welcome them by managing your lawn in a way that might be different from the typical grass-only buzz cut, incorporating native plants and herbs and allowing your lawn to grow a little taller. My lawn is only about half grass, while the rest is a mixture of short native plants and ground covers, plus opportunistic peppermint, pennyroyal and marjoram escaped from my herb gardens and the seedlings for next year’s forget-me-nots, daisies and other biennials and spring ephemerals. This diversity of flora encourages a diversity of fauna and eliminates large areas of one type of habitat so nothing has a chance to overpopulate.

Because I have less grass, I only have to cut the lawn about once a month after May. The native plants have a predetermined growth habit, most of them staying below six inches, and after the spring flush of growth the grass grows much more slowly. I can cut it higher than two inches, the minimum height to encourage ants and spiders, the main predators of fleas. Cutting the grass taller and less often helps the predators develop habitat and do their job on the fleas.

I also feed birds year-round, and while I always credit them with keeping vegetable and flower pests under control, I know they also peck around through the grass eating fleas.

Even if you’ve done all this you can still expect a few fleas, but you’re suddenly totally infested—what else can it be?

groundhog in cage

My guy going off on vacation.

Wildlife

It’s that darned squirrel that hangs out on your deck, or the groundhog that’s burrowed underneath it—or the opossum that nested in your piled-up porch furniture until spring, or the little field mice and voles who sacrifice themselves to your cats in the basement.

I had sprinkled the house with diatomaceous earth, bathed and combed the cats regularly, washed everything washable, swept everywhere just about daily, removed throw rugs and pillows and such, tossed non-washable things into a hot dryer, and removed as much from my house as possible. This was all I needed to do for years and the flea population never reached an infestation.

But this year the fleas kept coming back, and increasing all the time. Where were they coming from?

I began to notice that when I walked out on my deck, my legs were immediately covered with fleas, a dozen or more at a time. Fleas don’t fly, they jump, and while they can jump far, in a situation like this you can move around and check the numbers of fleas that jump on your skin (or wear a pair of white socks so you can see them easier) to help pinpoint an area of infestation. I started stepping around the deck, knocking fleas off my legs into a cup of water, then stepping again to see where numbers seemed the worst.

black cat at door

Mimi at the door, before the infestation.

Most wild animals harbor a few fleas, and some species are typically infested. My squirrels spend about half their time scratching, and wild rabbits, chipmunks, gophers, mice and voles are also heavily infested with fleas. The squirrels hang out on my deck trying to get into the bird seed, the rabbits hop around near the basement door, and I always have a juvenile groundhog who excavates under my deck before I can trap it, chipmunks run around chirping everywhere, and field mice and voles really do show up in my basement.

And I really did have an opossum on my deck that winter. Being nocturnal, we didn’t cross paths though I saw her through the back door now and then. With the unusually heavy ice and snow I didn’t have the heart to encourage her to find another home, and I didn’t unpack all my deck furniture this year, so I have no idea how long she stayed.

It was the area right in front of the door—right over the groundhog den under the deck—and on one side of that unmoved pile of things for my deck. The groundhog had left my yard to eat someone else’s vegetable garden, but left the fleas behind. I began deconstructing the pile of porch furniture and found evidence of nesting, though not recent. In both places, a heck of a lot of fleas.

So this was the source of my infestation, right outside the door that I kept open for most of the summer, locking the screen door at night and when I was away. Fleas could hop in when I opened the door, and ride inside as I walked in and out the door. My basement door has a space at the bottom because the concrete walk just outside is lifted and the bottom of the door jammed against it, so I trimmed the door.

Normally every spring I clean off my deck, sweep, wash and apply water-based waterproofing to the wood, then move things back, but this spring’s schedule didn’t allow the time. Once I cleaned off the deck, swept and washed it as well as hosed down all the items that were there, the constant re-infestation stopped. Whew!

Some Resources for Chemical-Free Outdoor Flea Control

You can get ten pages of results or more in an internet search on flea control, diatomaceous earth, pyrethrins and so on, but I try to find studies or information from non-commercial sources to cite.

Yardener.com has a series of articles about dealing with fleas in your yard, and the article about preventing fleas in the future is especially informative—plus the site is a great resource for dealing with all sorts of pest problems in your yard.

http://yardener.com/YardenersPlantProblemSolver/DealingWithPestInsects/BitingInsects/Fleas/PreventingFleasNextYear

Even though this article is from 1986, it gives a brief history of the use of diatomaceous earth from a study project at McGill University that is still applicable today about the effects and usage of DE.

http://eap.mcgill.ca/publications/eap4.htm

CDC Report on pyrethrins and pyrethroids: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp155.pdf

If you’re interested in more information about Backyard Wildlife Habitats, please visit the Backyard Wildlife Habitat page on my site with articles on developing your habitat and articles showing the photos, paintings and sketches I’ve done that were inspired but my backyard.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Outdoor Adventures: 2009

Namir and Cookie are not happy about having to go inside.

Namir and Cookie are not happy about having to go inside.

On this day three years ago I had some company out in the back yard, inspecting my work and making the decisions about who was inside and outside and when. I’ve often had one cat outdoors with me and could keep a close watch on their activities—as they usually did in watching mine.

Two cats was not so much of a challenge during the years when Moses was one of the kitties because she spread herself out on the warm bricks and napped the entire time.

But I still marvel that both Namir and Cookie actually stayed with me though they didn’t always hang together, and when I told them it was time to go in, they made faces at me, as you see, but in they went.

tortoiseshell cat with daffodil greens

Cookie pauses to let me see how well the daffodil greens match her eyes.

Yes, I watch them around the daffodils and other plants that may be toxic. No one has ever shown any interest in eating them outdoors. Cookie was famous for posing, and she knew she’d look lovely with the greens.

You can see the cluster of lettuce sprouts far behind Namir, below; that part of this cold frame simply got more sun so I began planting at that end every year. You can also see that his right front leg is shaved. He had very recently been in the emergency hospital for a bout of congestive heart failure. His neck would also have a shaved patch. I got so accustomed to seeing the shaved areas I didn’t even notice them. The April visit to the emergency clinic was one of his last though; he never completely recovered from that, and even with medication changes he only lived to July, though he had lived four full years after an initial prognosis of about six months.

cat walking on bricks

Namir stays carefully on the brick edge after inspecting the new lettuce sprouts.

But I’ve always noticed that a trip to the great outdoors of the back yard is an antidote to a lot of ills for them and me, even just a few minutes will do. My yard is a Backyard Wildlife Habitat so it’s full of smells and noises and movement and the noses get to work and ears swivel around and eyes focus on tiny movements, and soon discomfort and infirmities are forgotten in the important business of being a cat.

I had some artwork to photograph as well as working in the yard, and my two photo assistants are right on the job. I can only guess they liked to be with me, why else would they hang around that dirty old blanket I used to cushion the framed art from the bricks and to reflect extra light up onto the art?

two cats with photo bag

Namir and Cookie assist with some outdoor photography.

So as I watched Namir chase leaves and harass Cookie for fun, and Cookie cruise around and nap in the leaf litter, and had them both supervise my gardening progress while enjoying their time outdoors, I thoroughly enjoyed their presences.

two cats in spring garden

My two seniors join me outdoors to supervise my gardening.

It was a joy to watch Namir sprint across the yard just for the joy of running and Cookie patrol the garden paths, even in the late winter when strewn with weeds and debris.

Mimi is getting accustomed to this. We’ll see what she thinks tomorrow.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.